CALIFORNIA CITY — Last Tuesday evening’s regular session meeting of the Cal City Council lasted only about 45 minutes, though it did come out that accepting cannabis applications before the council approved it will cost some money, and a small Measure C overcharge will be adjusted next budget cycle.
There were no action items on the agenda beyond the Consent Calendar. Mayor Jennifer Wood was out of town for one of her last meetings as mayor due to family emergency, so Mayor Pro Tem Gomez ran the show for the evening.
The meeting started with department reports, where Cal City Police Department Chief Eric Hurtado detailed the brief lockdown of Robert P. Ulrich Elementary School earlier in the day after a report of a possible gunman running toward the school. Officers responded quickly, and the man turned out to not have a real gun, but did have a large knife, and was arrested on weapons violation charges.
City Manager Robert Stockwell announced the hiring of a new accountant for Cal City. That being one Mr. Eddie Cooper, who joins the team at City Hall. There are still four more vacancies in just the city finance department alone. Stockwell stated that “recruitments are many,” and ongoing. He added that CCPD has six sworn candidates in processing right now, with another six vacancies open for hires. City Finance director Foster also announced two new hires to help her with city finances.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, it was announced and admitted that the city miscalculated its assessment amount for Measure C, the agreed upon and passed 182.50 a year parcel tax. The actual billed amount it turns out is 28 cents too much. Civic watchdog Al Hutson made the claim, which was answered by Stockwell, who said that the city had made a mistake in their calculation and that the 28-cent overcharge is real and would be corrected in the next budget cycle. In total it is under $2,000, and not significant.
Parks and Recreation Director Brenda Daverin thanked all who participated, volunteered for or performed at the free concert in the park and the Chalk-a-Walk in the park event that occurred the previous Saturday. She stated that Blue Steel “rocked” and that neighbors even called to compliment them on their performance.
She reminded all that this Saturday, Oct. 27, is Cal City Cancer Walk in Central Park starting at 7 a.m. in the parking lot. Be there early to sign up and get warmed up for the walk in advance. She also announced that Dec. 1 will be the Christmas Tree lighting at City Hall followed by the start of Holiday Village 2018.
Daverin also reminded the assembled of the coming Trunk or Treat to be held at CCHS parking lot again on Halloween, starting at 4:30 p.m. She said there are still spots available for people to participate in the event.
Stockwell announced an energy forum the following morning (Oct. 24) to be held at City Hall starting at 11 a.m., hosted by Baker Energy Team of Roseville, Calif., founded by baseball legend Johnnie B. “Dusty” Baker. They specialize in renewable energy and off-the-grid accommodations to solve logistical energy solutions for specialized clients, such as our cannabis investors and their need for electricity that SoCal Edison cannot provide anytime soon.
Stockwell also stated that his office has been getting better in our relationship with the state CEQA board in Sacramento, and that their relationship was improving to help solve the impasse that some of our investors have found themselves in.
On another sour note, it was also announced during the end of the meeting that the city has run into some liability for what turns out was jumping the gun on Cal City dispensary applications by the city administration. Last February, the city engaged in accepting applications for dispensaries to be opened and operated here in Cal City. The problem was that City Council had not approved such a move at that time.
The applicants paid the required set fees for those applications, background checks, etc., associated with that permit and license. Since the city jumped the gun, they are now having to reimburse those applicants their money from the current budget, which has not accounted for that unexpected expense.
One individual has been reimbursed already, Stockwell said. When asked if there are others pending that will also likely seek their money back, Stockwell alluded to the possibility of at least one other — representatives of that company were present to confirm that assumption — and that there may even be more yet to be paid back. Whether motivated by a desire to get our new industry going or not, this jumping the gun has left the open to liability for those actions. If we get lucky we’re only out the original money with no penalties.
Much more to come from what is fast becoming the city’s cannabis nightmare, including the sabotage of some investors from within City Hall itself which has come to light in the last couple weeks. That too could prove a difficulty for the city as we still await the start of the cannabis industry in Cal City over two years after approving it.